The future of sports betting will include sportsbooks inside U.S. pro sports venues, more betting-themed broadcasts and livestreaming, personalized content for bettors and expanded in-play wagering.
Those were some of the topics discussed Tuesday at CES in two panels at Aria: “Tech has Changed the Live Sports Experience” and “The Future of Sports Betting.”
William Hill is expected to open the first sportsbook at a U.S. pro sports venue this year, at Capital One Arena in the District of Columbia, as part of a partnership with Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns the arena and the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and Washington Mystics.
Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Monumental, talked Tuesday at the “Live Sports” panel about turning the arena itself into a giant sportsbook when it’s otherwise empty. He also wrote about the future of sports betting Monday before appearing at the international consumer electronics show.
“Opening our building during what would otherwise be ‘dark hours’ will bring new life to the arena and downtown Washington,” Leonsis wrote. “The sportsbook will be an electric venue that comes alive during live games at Capital One Arena and during live events played outside of our venue as well. We imagine testing opportunities to open the arena for large viewing parties on NFL Sundays or (English Premier League) Saturday mornings.
“Perhaps you’d like to enjoy a (pay-per-view) boxing or UFC match in a communal environment that feeds off the energy of hundreds or thousands of sports fans. There are so many possibilities that we are excited to experiment with in search of delivering the best experiences possible for our fans.”
NBC Sports Washington already is offering alternate betting-themed TV broadcasts of 20 Wizards games this season on its NBCSW+ channel. The broadcasts feature a “Predict the Game” format with in-play questions at the bottom of the screen and separate on-air talent.
Leonsis envisions a future in which sports content is even more specialized for bettors, who eventually will be able to place wagers on an app on their smart TV while watching games.
“I don’t see why an alternate betting broadcast or exclusive video with expert advice or free play tokens or zero-latency streaming feeds couldn’t be sold as a separate package for interested fans and bettors,” he wrote. “We’re heading toward a day when sports networks will feature shows that feel more like programming found on CNBC and less like ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter.’ ”
FanDuel CEO Matt King said he expects the increased popularity of in-play betting to lead to more cord-cutting.
“The reality is that people doing in-play betting will get used to just watching a small part of the match,” he said. “The NBA League Pass is a product where, for a fraction of the cost of a game, you can watch the last few minutes of a game. Things like that will become more relevant.
“As an operator, I actually know what game someone cares about or what player someone cares about. There’s a much more direct connection than has ever existed before. It will not cause cord-cutting, but it will certainly contribute to the acceleration of a trend that already is happening in sports.”
King said his company is spending a lot of time on personalization for its customers.
“For the average NFL game, we have 250 different markets, or things you can bet on. That’s very overwhelming to the casual fan. But it’s that level of flexibility that people want,” he said. “One of the things we have to figure out is how do we build a user interface that makes limitless betting digestible to the average fan.
“Over time, we’ll learn what they want to bet on and serve them that content in a much easier way. Personalization is one area we have to catch up to what a lot of other technologies are doing.”